Presented by the Government's Committee on Government Contracts, produced by On Film, Inc. and directed by Lewis Freedman. Starring Ed Asner, Lester Rawlins, Chase Crowley and Gail Fisher.
0547 PA8288 New Girl in the Office
July 30, 2004 Subject:
Mary Newton is the first colored girl to work at Dennis Industry in the secretarial pool. Mary was an honor student who, instead of going to college, went to secretarial school. Being a secretary at a big company like Dennis is her dream, just like her mothers dream was to work in a shop, instead of cleaning houses. Both Mary and her mothers minimal aspirations tell us something about this films low expectations of women and its endorsement of reactionary social attitudes, despite its jazzy soundtrack and moody cinematography.
The male executives (who have no intention of hiring any blacks or women at their occupational level) project their own racism onto the white women who, like Mary, are stuck in dead-end clerical jobs that go nowhere. Beth, Mr. Denniss private secretary is ordered to be nice to Mary (as if shes incapable of acting on her own behalf). Kit Wright, the most popular secretary, has a boss who ridicules her when she comes into work late saying, Youd better hurry, my coffees getting cold! Kit tells her boss shes quitting because of Mary. Even though shes meant to be the films villain, shes the only one who behaves with some authenticity.
The film ends in the company lunchroom with the men watching how the women react to Mary when she walks towards the secretaries lunch table with her tray. The women workers have no privacy in this officethe men are constantly monitoring their behavior and passing judgment on them. The men would never think of asking Mary to join them at lunch, but theyre quick to condemn the girls if they snub Mary. The secretaries eventually accept and befriend Maryeven Kit, who has stayed on to endure more degrading treatment from her boss (some arsenic in his morning coffee wouldn't be a bad idea). The men are relieved because now its back to business as usual and they can use Mary as a shill to demonstrate that theyre integrated when they bid on government contracts. The films message: Colored girls dont cause trouble after all.
December 7, 2003 Subject:
Richard Nixon: King of all black people.
Pretty good docudrama for it's day about an office just about to hire it's first black woman for a secretary, and the ramifications it has in the office. It was quite surprising seeing the credit list and finding out that Ed Asner and Ford Rainey were in the production somewhere. The acting ranges from Very good to shaky, and the script sometimes can't veer above soap opera level. (The discussion which the new girl has with her family is pretty bad, as both actors seem to have arrived from a road production of 'Lilies Of The Field'.
All in all, an 'important' film I'm sure for it's time, but nowadays comes across as too forced and down your throatish (the pat they-all-lived-happily-ever-after ending is quite bad).
Great end credits though, Who knew tricky Dick cared so much?